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“And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:1-2)
When we read the prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures we need to see both the immediate and the ultimate fulfilment of the prophet’s words. Each prophecy has both an immediate, typical and an ultimate, messianic fulfilment.
In its immediate context, when Isaiah spoke these words, he was referring to God’s deliverance of the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed Judah. When Sennacherib, the godless king of Assyria invaded the land of Judea, it looked as though the nation of Israel would be utterly destroyed. And the Assyrian invasion was a terrible display of God’s anger against the sins of his people. But here Isaiah assures God’s elect remnant of salvation from the hands of that wicked tyrant. That is the immediate, typical fulfillment of the prophecy. But there is much more in the text.
In its ultimate, spiritual, messianic scope this is a prophecy of the salvation of God’s elect in the day of his grace when Christ is revealed in their hearts. This is what happens to each of God’s elect when they are translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. Isaiah shows us what happens to a sinner when he is born again by the power of God the Holy Ghost, delivered from the spirit of bondage and wrath, and brought by the Spirit of adoption into the liberty of the Sons of God.
As we read Isaiah 12:1-2, every regenerate heart says, “Amen.” This is every believer’s confession, the confession of every sinner saved by the grace of God. This is the confession we make to God and the confession we make to men. It is the confession we make to the world and the confession we make to one another. It is the confession we make in prayer and the confession we make in song. This is the confession we make in preaching and is the confession we make in quiet meditation. The word “praise” in verse 1 might be better translated “confess.” Isaiah is talking about the believer’s confession of faith. — This is my confession.
“Thou wast angry with me.” — Call it what you will, put it in whatever theological terms you choose, but there was a time when I was awakened to a sense of my personal sin and made to realize that God almighty was justly and righteously angry with me. I was made to realize that I was, like all other men and women, a child of wrath by nature, cursed and condemned before God’s holy law (Romans 3:19; 7:9).
But, blessed be his name, my confession does not stop there. “Though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away!” Can this matter of forgiveness really be known as a matter of certainty, so that a sinful man can honestly look upon the holy God and declare, “Thine anger is turned away?” Upon what grounds can I make such a confession of confident faith? I make this confession upon the authority of God’s holy, infallible Word. The basis of my assurance is the Word of God alone (1 John 5:1-14). In the Book of God, I read that Christ died for sinners (Romans 5:6-8; 1 Timothy 1:15-16). “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Because I am assured that I am a sinner, I am assured that Christ died for me. I cannot doubt it. The Word of God declares, “He that believeth on him is not condemned” (John 3:18). I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not trust him as I should. I do not trust him as I would. But I do trust Christ alone for all my acceptance with God. If God’s Word is true, and it is, then I am not condemned!
“And thou comfortest me.” — Since the day that God’s anger was turned away from my conscience, the Lord has comforted me. Though I am weak, he is strong. Though I am full of sin, he is full of mercy. Though I am tempted, he is faithful. And he comforts me with the assurance of propitiation made (1 John 2:1-2), the awareness of providence good (Romans 8:28), and the application of promises sure (2 Corinthians. 1:20).
“Behold, God is my salvation!” — God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is my salvation. God the Father planned it. God the Son purchased it. And God the Holy Ghost brought it to me. Because God is my salvation, “I will trust and not be afraid.” I will trust him and not be afraid of him! “The Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song.” My Savior is God the Triune Jehovah. “He also is become my Salvation” by his own appointment, by his own accomplishments, by his almighty grace, and by his gift of faith (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).